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My computer is subject to chronic (that is, it happens every few months) instability, which manifests itself in the form of heavy graphical glitches, GPU driver failures, distorted sound, network instability and the such. Despite knowing my way around a computer, I have not been able to narrow down the source of these issues, so this is a toss up between drivers problems, hardware problems and a more general electrical problems in my home.

How at least to investigate the second one, ie. the state of my components.
Any thoughts about possible causes for these problems ?

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Intermittent problems like this are extremely uncommon in the digital world, and I would likely point my finger (initially, at least) towards external factors. Invest in an inexpensive UPS to provide a "filter" between your computer and the power outlet if you suspect there is a wiring fault in your home. The fact that you experience many distinct issues raises some suspicion about the root cause of the problem, although I'm sure many people have seen stranger things happen. Ensure that your computer passes Memtest86+ and Prime95, record your max operating temperatures, and report back. – Breakthrough Mar 2 '12 at 13:41
@Breakthrough Some cheap UPSes could introduce power fluctuations, though. – Bob Mar 2 '12 at 14:05
Memtest86 just passed without problems. Prime95 has been running for half an hour now and the temperature of (what I guess is) the CPU seems to plateau at 60°, so I guess this isn't the problem. – Timst Mar 2 '12 at 15:39
Also, I should have precised that the graphical driver glitches and crashes (pixels invading the screens, tear, and eventually crash of the whole system) happens while I'm playing, which seems logical since few other things sollicitate a graphic card. However it does not seems to happen in every game. Recently, it's "Tribes : Ascend" that made my game crash. But even then it's not consistent : sometimes it crashes right away, sometimes I'm able to play for hours without any problem. – Timst Mar 2 '12 at 15:45

Try looking at log files in Event Viewer, it could show the source of your problem.

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

It turned out to (probably) come from the GPU's memory frequency. Problems mostly disappeared after underclocking it. (I think I had some more crashes, but they ended by driver reboot by the OS rather than by full-on crash.)

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